Roald to Rowling: The Wonka Legacy of Literary Candy

Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Bean, Chocolate Frogs, Butter Beer and more all play a small but memorable role in the Harry Potter series, and they are also available to actually buy and consume. Should you be lucky enough to find yourself in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, you can pop into Honeydukes and purchase pretty much any kind of candy from the Potter universe, from Yorkshire Mix to Fizzing Whizzbees. If, for whatever reason, you want to avoid going to America at this particular time, you can always just order this stuff online. As for the taste, I can make no guarantees, but who wouldn’t want to try an ear-waxed flavoured bean or a Sugared Butterfly Wing?

The notion of wacky literary candy can of course be accredited to Roald Dahl and his fictitious classic Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. When the Golden Tickets are found and Willy Wonka opens the gates to his factory for the first time in years, Dahl shows us a world of chocolate mixing waterfalls, Oompa-Loompas and Everlasting Gobstoppers. The hallmark of Wonka’s craft is of course the Wonka Bar, which is indeed now available to buy. The Wonka bar in the books is described as the ‘perfect candy bar’ and is said to come in over two hundred flavours, according to Grandpa Joe. During the 1971 film adaptation of the book, The Quaker Oates Company who helped finance the film created a Wonka Bar to publicize it. This bar was released to stores, but apparently was quickly recalled due to a production problem. Since then, a number of incarnations of the Wonka bar have been made available to the public by Nestlé. Real Wonka Bars were packaged with a Golden Ticket to promote Tim Burton’s 2005 film, and a factory in Europe started producing bars with flavours depicted in that same film, including Whipple-Scrumptious Fudgemallow Delight and Tripple Dazzle Caramel. Yummy.

However, until August 2013, Wonka Bars had not been sold in the UK since 2005. But all was not lost! Nestlé UK would announce the return of the Wonka Bar, making it available in small individual bars and big block bars, coming in three different flavours: Millionaire’s Shortbread, Crème Brûlée and Chocolate Nice Cream. Other Wonka candy is also available today, including Laffy Taffy and Gobstoppers (though probably not everlasting).

And so what started their lives as mere words on a page have gradually been developed into tangible, consumable, delicious novelty candy. Helped greatly by the influence of film adaptations and the marketing strategies that go with them, the candies of Dahl’s Chocolate Factory and Rowling’s magical sweet shops have become far more than just products of pure imagination.

I know I said I wouldn’t, but about that election…

‘There’s no earthly way of knowing
Which direction we are going
There’s no knowing where we’re rowing
Or which way the river’s flowing’

  • Gene Wilde’s Willy Wonka


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